I am working on an interesting project in Kaliningrad, Russia. Kaliningrad is the most western part of Russia. It shares borders with Poland, Lithuania and is on the Baltic Sea. To travel from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia you have to cross borders. so it quite unique as it is isolated from Russia. The city of Kalinigrad is beautiful and looks a lot like a European rather than Russian city. It has some excellent coffee shops, restaurants and shopping malls.
I have come over for 7 days to train small business advisors across the Kaliningrad Oblast(Province). I have also had the opportunity to travel around the Oblast quite a lot and met some great entrepreneurs.
Some of the lessons i have learnt when working in internationally are:
- Plan your trip carefully. Landing in Moscow for me was a little intimidating. There seems to be one rule of the rode at and near the airport, there is no rule. Don’t expect people to speak English so have patience you may have to learn some creative sign language.
- Take the time difference and jet lag into consideration. Get somebody to collect you at the airport and get your local partners to book a hotel for you.
- Get good local partners to work with you. In my case an excellent translator that understands western as well as Russian ways. It’s a good idea to get a local driver too. You don’t want to be driving in a place where you can speak the language or read the road signs.
- Understand the local culture. Don’t assume you understand, rather ask questions. Don’t think your way is the right way. You don’t want to go around offending people
- Learn the way they do business locally. Gift giving in Russia is common, chocolates for the women and alchohol for the men. As a consultant I am expected to wear a suit and tie, it helps show respect.
- Build trust. It’s important that you develop a good relationship with the people you are working with. If you develop a great relationship your work will be easier.
- Learn some greetings in the local language. Try some of the local food and drinks.
- Share some stories about Canada, even better bring some photographs with you, people are curious.
- Don’t be afraid to sell your services internationally it’s a great opportunity to learn and contribute to development in the local economy.
I look forward to being back in Canada next week. The more i travel the more i realise what a great country we live in